Rory McIlroy says he's relishing having fans at the course for this week's PGA Championship at Kiawah Island's south course.
Around 10,000 supporters will be attendance each day at the second major of the year where the Ulster man is hoping to repeat his success of 2012.
Fans were back for the four-time major winner's recent one-shot victory at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow and McIlroy says players feed from the energy of packed fairways.
"It's funny, ever since I was 16 years old I've had thousands of people watch me play golf pretty much every time I teed it up," the former world number one said ahead of the PGA.
"So playing in that environment for 14, 15 years and then having the complete opposite, it's just different. I said at the time it was like playing practice rounds, when it's easy to lose concentration. Everyone is used to a certain environment, whether you work or whatever you do.
"I watched the Champions League semi-finals a couple of weeks ago and for those guys playing in that for the first time in their careers, and they're playing in an empty stadium, that must be terrible. That's not at all how you dream of being in a squad like that and playing in a massive game.
Two-time PGA Champion @McIlroyRory is focused on what lies ahead.#PGAChamp pic.twitter.com/Zsinw9CfBF
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) May 18, 2021
"You want to play in front of people and you want to feel that atmosphere. It's unfortunate that in these times a lot of people don't have that experience, but I am glad that we're getting back to some sort of normalcy, and when you hit good shots and hole putts there are claps and rewards and encouragement.
"I feel like that's all a part of tournament golf and competitive sports at the highest level, and just happy that I'm starting to come back. I loved hearing the 'mashed potatoes' guys again! But I don't even care about the stupid comments, I'm just glad that everyone is back here."
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